"The Christian faithful (…) have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful". (Code of canon Law Can. 212 §2-3)

"Communication both within the Church community, and between the Church and the world at large, requires openness (…) so as to promote a correctly-informed and discerning public opinion within the Christian community". (Apostolic Letter "The rapid Development" of the Holy Father John Paul II, 2005.1.24 n.12)

A programmed process

On June 9th, 1998, just three days after his official appointment as Archbishop of L’Aquila, His Excellence Monsignor Giuseppe Molinari called the Capuchin Father Andrea D’Ascanio to the Curia and gave him a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, by means of which he was officially notified of the existence of a serious process against him.

The International Committee in favor of Father Andrea D’Ascanio has prepared a summary of the process, extracting several fragments from the records of the process.

From the acquittal of the first instance canonic process:

The CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) from the very start of the judicial process, had only taken the time to listen to the arguments of the accusers, whose credibility was heavily endorsed by His Excellence Monsignor Giuseppe Molinari, Coadjutor Archbishop of L´Aquila, and friend of one of the principal accusers and, through him, of the others.”

(...). In reality, the complaint took into account only a part of the preliminary investigation, the part of the “denouncement” (cfr. Minutes of the process, no. 15). However, defense documentation exists in the CDF, submitted by His Excellence Monsignor Mario Peressin, on the 24th of June 1997, documentation which the Court had formal knowledge of in virtue of the testimony of His Excellence Monsignor Mario Peressin (27th of March 1999). On such Date, the Chief Justice gave instructions to the Notary of the Court (...) to incorporate such defensive evidence, of a prejudicial nature, to the records of the judicial criminal process, in order to place them with the documentation that forms the basis of the “denouncement” resulting from the preliminary investigation.”

The action of Monsignor Molinari

In March 1996, Monsignor Molinari arrived at L’Aquila as Coadjutor. He received several people who had met to denounce father Andrea D’Ascanio and he channeled them to be attended by the Archbishop in office, Monsignor Mario Peressin, who, as he knew them, does not credit their words and defines them as “unscrupulous people and of doubtful Christian faith” (letter written by Monsignor Peressin to the CDF dated the 24th of June 1997).

Monsignor Molinari did not grant a legitimate confrontation

Father Andrea D’Ascanio, having gained knowledge of the action filed against him, on the 27th of November 1996, went to see Monsignor Molinari in order to ask him for a confrontation hearing with his accusers and left him a letter, in which he wrote:

Your Reverend Excellence, (...) I am not asking you to take charge of my defense, I only demand clarity. Consider me at your disposal for any confrontation hearing (...).”

The Bishop, Monsignor Flavio Roberto Carraro, ex Superior General of the Capuchins, who as well as knowing Father Andrea very well, also suggested the possibility of holding a confrontation hearing, as Monsignor Molinari declared to the CDF Court:

Witness Molinari: “I was in the Assembly of the CEI, precisely in that year, and I came across Monsignor Flavio Carraro, ex Superior General of the Capuchins and he also told me “Maybe we should do something for...”, but he also – as good Father Carraro, said “But these people, if they have something against Father Andrea, then they should say it, and a confrontation hearing would have to be held.” I realized that that wasn’t a feasible way out either...”.

The same advice was given by his superior, Monsignor Peressin:

Witness Molinari: “(...) Monsignor Peressin suggested a confrontation hearing with him...”(ib.)

Monsignor Molinari did not grant the holding of a confrontation hearing. Ignoring the directives of his superior and of the Code of Canonic Law (canon 1419: “In each of the dioceses...the first instance judge is the Bishop of the dioceses”) he addressed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The “feasible way out” according to Monsignor Molinari

(Taken from the statement of Monsignor Molinari submitted to the CDF)

Witness Molinari: “I appear to request a consensus, an aid, I should also be grateful, because in that context I could not do anything in my status as Bishop Coadjutor, because otherwise I could have had a confrontation with Monsignor Peressin...”

Chief Justice: Okay, then could we say that the decision to be addressed to this Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been taken by yourself?

Witness Molinari: ...I said that maybe the most feasible way out could be precisely this... more or less that it how the idea came to me.”

(Taken from the acquittal)

His Excellence, Monsignor Mario Peressin, swore before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, first in writing and then in the audience granted by the Secretary of the CDF, his Excellence, Monsignor Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.; (...). Monsignor Mario Peressin was sorry that he was not consulted, however as he is the Bishop of the dioceses, he is also sorry that Father Andrea D’Ascanio was not given the same opportunity to defend himself”.

Monsignor Molinari in search of denouncers

Monsignor Molinari undertook the search for denouncers behind the back of his Superior:

The witness Alessia Zimei stated to the Court of the CDF:

- “That day, the 17th of November 1996, Monsignor Molinari went to look for us at home, he had told me: I’ll go to your home, don’t worry about coming here to the Curia... on the 8th of November I filed my denouncement with the bishop”.

The witness Anna Rita Belisari confirmed before the Court of the CDF:

- “Then, Molinari came to my home, because he preferred not to see us in the Curia and then he came to my house.”


Gabriele Nanni

Father Andrea D’Ascanio, in the letter he wrote to Monsignor Molinari, which he gave him personally on the 27th of November 1996, he also wrote that:

(...) the case is that, among the different “denouncers” against me, is a Gabriele Nanni...he was with us for 3 years and later got me into the Pro Deo et Fratribus, a new structure that he considered more suitable. After several days, he left alleging that he had a “burden of conscience to denounce me”, notwithstanding having told his Superiors that it was not fair or timely when it was done...”

Monsignor Molinari, four days earlier, had received Gabriele Nanni in the dioceses.

In fact, on the afternoon of the 23rd of November, Annarita Bellisari and Alessia Zimei had gone to Civitella del Tronto to pick him up from the Pro Deo institute, where he had been for the last three years, to present him to Monsignor Molinari:

From the statement by Annarita Bellisari before the Court of the CDF:

I called him on the 23rd of November (...) we went to Civitella to pick-up Gabriele who had been accepted by Molinari, because in essence, he had been fired by the Pro Deo in the morning... and was taken in by Molinari and sent to the house of Zimei”.

From the statement by Gabriele Nanni before the Court of the CDF:

Without the need to say anymore, he asked me: “What intentions do you have?” “I still believe in my vocation” and then he asked me if I would like to stay there in L’Aquila. I was over the moon. Therefore, the same day I was fired from one place, I was taken in in another”.

The Bishop sent Nanni to the house of Zimei, where he stayed almost three months (“I ceased to inhabit the house of Zimei in February 1997”), [taken from the statement made by Gabriele Nanni before the CDF], at which time his denouncements were made and those of the other individuals.

Monsignor Molinari later sent Gabriele Nanni to the parish of Sassa and then, in a period of less than two months, without revealing his true identity to the Superior, Monsignor Peressin, on the 31st of March 1997, ordained him a deacon:

From the statement of Monsignor Molinari before the Court of the CDF:

Then I said to Don Gabriele “what do you say?, shall I ordain you tomorrow or shall we wait?”, and he told me: “I think that if we wait, this opportunity might not appear again”. Then I ordained him... Later, Monsignor Peressin told me: “You have betrayed me, I’m going to write to Rome. I am going to make them revoke such ordainment...”.

The Church Law prescribes:

Canon 407- §1. The diocesan Bishop, the Coadjutor and the Assistant Bishop will consult with each other on those questions that are of great importance.

§3. The Coadjutor Bishop and the Assistant Bishop, when called to participate in the procedure utilized by the diocesan Bishop, will perform their functions in such a way that they conduct their actions in mutual agreement with him”.

Canon 1051- §1. Evidence should exist of the rector of the seminar and of the house of education with regards to the qualities required to receive the order...

No evidence whatsoever exists.

Canon 1029- Only those who have conducted themselves with correct intentions should be promoted to the orders.

The only “correct intention” that Gabriele Nanni states to his superiors of the Pro Deo, is that of going to L’Aquila to denounce Father Andrea.

Monsignor Molinari and the vertices of the Church

From the statement by Monsignor Molinari before the CDF:

And I know that in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith they have made their own investigations, I think that Monsignor Bertone even directed Cardinal Sodano...”

I have told the Congregation: I can guarantee the credibility of these persons.”

In November 1996, the witness Alessia Zimei was received by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, a character very close to Monsignor Molinari, as stated by Cardinal Bernardino Echeverria of Ecuador:

I state that on the 12th of November 1996 Alessia Zimei came to see me (...) in the General House of the Minor Fathers of Rome at Via Santa Maria Mediatrice No. 25. She told me that she wanted to accuse Father Andrea and the Armata Bianca before the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and that she would go to Cardinal Sodano. I attempted to dissuade her, reminding her how much she had worked for this Marian movement and the effect that had always been demonstrated by Father Andrea. I found her implacable and it seemed strange to me how in so few days she could undergo a change of such nature and I found it even stranger that she was heading to the Cardinal Secretary of State who had nothing to do with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (...) Cardinal Bernardino Echeverria Ruiz, OFM, Emeritus Archbishop of Guayaquil”.

After the meeting with Cardinal Sodano, the witness Alessia Zimei was channeled to Monsignor Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of the CDF. She headed to the facilities of the Congregation accompanied by Domenico Pelliccione, an important element in the conspiracy organized against Father Andrea and the Armata Bianca:

From the statement of Alessia Zimei before the Court of the CDF:

Chief Justice: “You came to the Congregation?”

Witness Zimei: “Don Aldo Bollini accompanied us to Pelliccione and myself...”

A perfect denouncement resulted from this meeting, imbued by all the canons, which was added to the file substituting the first denouncement by Alessia Zimei.

It is only because of the petition made by the defense lawyer, who noticed the aforementioned substitution, that the first denouncement will be once again added to the records of the process.

Similarly, an important file that contains documents that favor the defense of Father D’Ascanio will be once again added to the records, at the special request of the Chief Justice of the College, which come from Cardinals, Bishops, Priests and laymen, this file had been compiled at the time by Monsignor Peressin, given that he showed to favor Father Andrea.

Inherency of his Excellence Tarcisio Bertone

The Court summoned Monsignor Bertone, who didn’t appear because “he had already participated in the previous investigation and in the development of the judicial process” (from the first instance acquittal).

Therefore, Monsignor Bertone “started” the process, receiving later confirmation from Monsignor Eduardo Davino, Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals and recorder of the guilty verdict:

He added, inclusively, that in effect the witness Alessia Zimei also had a meeting with the then Secretary, his Excellence Tarcisio Bertone”.

The Secretary of the CDF, Monsignor Tarcisio Bertone, in April 1997 would not send Alessia Zimei to his Archbishop, as should have proceeded according to canon 1419, but rather initiated the judicial case against Father Andrea D’Ascanio.

The joint action of Monsignor Molinari and Monsignor Bertone will continue even during the process as a result of the telephone tapping carried out by the Police during the criminal investigation:

Bishop Molinari: “Yesterday afternoon I saw the Secretary of the Congregation... Bertone (...) and I asked him to hurry as much as possible...I told him that I am going to send him a copy of the documents(...). He said that it was okay, that we will send him a little... find the way (...). I told him: I want to act and I’ll notify you...” (19.12.99 at 22:30 pm. Tape No. 3, call No. 184 between Rosa Pelliccione and Monsignor Molinari).

In this way, the words contained in the first instance acquittal take on their true sense:

The College, from the start of the process, has attempted to obtain the truth in order to do justice, despite being aware of an eventual acquittal of Father Andrea D’Ascanio would hardly be well-received by the different authorities involved in the investigation stage and in the promotion of the judicial criminal process.

The action of Monsignor Molinari continues in the civil and criminal courts

In the year 2000, before the end of the ecclesiastical process, Monsignor Molinari filed another process in the civil court of L’Aquila against Father Andrea D’Ascanio in order to take the facility of Sant’Apollonia away from the Armata Bianca, which had been granted to them under a gratuitous loan for a period of twenty years by his predecessor, Monsignor Peressin. He presents the usual people as witnesses, Domenico and Rosa Pelliccione, whom he places next to the Chancellor of the Curia, Monsignor Sergio Maggioni.

The judgment turns out to be contrary to the Curia and the presented witnesses are declared to be “false and lacking credibility”.

In the criminal process, Monsignor Molinari did not make a direct statement, rather his actions came to light in the telephone calls intercepted by the Police and by the statements made by the witnesses in the process:

From the intercepted telephone calls:

(19.12.99 at 22:33 pm. Tape No. 3, call No. 184 between Rosa Pelliccione and Monsignor Molinari).

Bishop: Anyway ... (...) I will do everything possible, as fast as can be done... (note of the writer: against Father Andrea)... Inclusively, if my testimony is of use, then I am willing to go”.

(03.02.2000 at 17:26 pm. Tape No. 23, call No. 1784 between Rosa Pelliccione and Monsignor Molinari).

Rosa Pelliccione: Your Excellence, I want to tell you that the Holy Office of Rome has asked me, Father Ramos...

Bishop: Yes (...)

Rosa Pelliccione: And asked me for several addresses Your Excellence, including that of... but this is just between me and you, even that of... Father Candido...

Bishop: I understand

Rosa Pelliccione: ...of the Anzio sisters...

Bishop: And of the Cerdeñas?

Taken from the minute of the criminal hearing held on the 27th of January 2003, testimony submitted by Gabriella Parisse:

Parisse: I was invited by the Bishop to offer my testimony

Lawyer: By which bishop?

Parisse: Molinari

Lawyer: You mean, you were invited to appear by Molinari spontaneously (...)

Parisse: Yes

Monsignor Molinari delegates the task of obtaining accusers to other people, above all to Father Elia Giacobbe, ex-Passionist, whom he has taken in in his dioceses and to whom the denouncers turn. With them and with his instructions, Father Giacobbe went to Foggia, Potenza, Naples and Cerdeña. The Archbishop is constantly informed:

(12.01.2000. Tape No. 14, call No. 1101 between Rosa Pelliccione and Monsignor Molinari).

P. Giacobbe: “I talked to the Bishop and he wants to keep going with your affair, due to things, also on your behalf.”

(19.01.2000 at 10:05 pm. Tape No. 17, call No. 1361 between Rosa Pelliccione and Monsignor Molinari).

Rosa Pelliccione: “So he (the Bishop) knows everything, have you understood?”...also because he should know all our things (...).”